The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is working to meet 157 conditions set down by the National Energy Board.

In this post we’ll take a closer look at conditions related to Geographic Response Plans (GRPs). These plans are part of our overarching Emergency Management Plan, which is being enhanced as part of preparations for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The enhanced plan puts a greater focus on geographic response planning, which includes collaboration and input from local public safety agencies and Aboriginal groups.

Conditions 124, 125, 126

The NEB addresses Geographic Response Plans as part of the following three conditions:

  • Condition 124 — Implementing Improvements to Trans Mountain’s Emergency Management Program.
  • Condition 125 — Emergency Response Plans for the Pipeline and for the Edmonton, Sumas and Burnaby Terminals.
  • Condition 126 — Emergency Response Plan for the Westridge Marine Terminal.

The Emergency Management Plan has many aspects. These include the Incident Command System Guide, which details procedures for managing an emergency incident, emergency response plans for the pipeline as well as terminals and tank farms, our fire safety plan and other plans. As a component of the overall Emergency Management Plan, Geographic Response Plans pre-identify key locations to deploy spill countermeasures to expedite response actions within the first 48 hours. These plans also identify ecologically and culturally sensitive areas that can be prioritized, should an incident occur.

A closer look at geographic response planning

GRP-related requirements in these three conditions include development of Geographic Response Plans, Geographical Response Strategies, control point mapping, volunteer management plans, fire safety plans and tactical plans for high consequence areas along the right-of-way.

The GRPs set out actions to be taken at specific sites along the pipeline right-of-way such as a municipal water intake, a sensitive environmental feature, a coastline area, a river crossing or a place of cultural or environmental significance to an Aboriginal group.

In addition, the GRPs locate and classify control points. These are pre-determined locations along the right-of-way, either on land or in watercourses, where responders could intercept spilled product in order to establish a spill response strategy and deploy spill response equipment. Identifying control point locations ahead of time enables KMC to respond more effectively, limiting potential impacts to sensitive areas downstream of a release point.

Working with Aboriginal groups

“KMC understands that local knowledge is vital for the development of GRPs and we continue to engage with local communities, Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders in order to incorporate their local knowledge into our response plans,” Emergency Management Director Jamie Kereliuk explained. “One of the keys to getting the most thorough and accurate information is by involving Aboriginal groups in development of the plans,” he added.

“For example, we’ve had positive conversations with Aboriginal groups located in the Kamloops and Merritt areas. These communities have expressed a strong interest in participating in the GRP project and have shown a willingness to share their local and cultural knowledge.

KMC looks forward to working with additional Aboriginal communities as well as other stakeholders as the Project continues to move south towards the BC Lower Mainland.”

Kereliuk said their local knowledge and expertise is valuable for developing the best GRP possible.

“Recently the field team worked alongside members of the Simpcw First Nation during a day of control point site visits in the McClure/Barrier region and along the North Thompson River,” Kereliuk said. “As part of this visit, Simpcw First Nations summer students were able to participate in the GRP process and work with the field team collecting essential site information.”


Simpcw First Nation Fisheries and Wildlife Coordinator Tina Donald worked with KMC’s Emergency Management field team on development of Geographic Response Plans in the North Thompson and Upper Fraser regions.

‘When I first went out to the site at Robson Valley, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be heard. But the Kinder Morgan crew and the SWAT Consulting (inland water spill response) crew that were out there were very respectful,” Donald said.

“We want to make sure our cultural sites are being protected. Once all their information is compiled, they will share the final plan with me.

“Part of the planning work was getting to know all of the individuals doing the GRPs because they are the ones that would be on-site if anything were to happen. For me, that includes getting to know those people face-to-face, so when I show up on-site they know who I am and what my role is.”

A team of specialists

Kinder Morgan Canada has deployed a team of specialists with backgrounds in a variety of disciplines to complete the evaluations.

In the North Thompson-Kamloops area, for example, Trans Mountain’s emergency management team has evaluated more than 300 GRP control points and/or boat launches, Kereliuk said.

These evaluations typically require the KMC team to spend 60 – 90 minutes at each site. Pictures are taken of land and water features and a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or “drone” is briefly used to provide a high-level overhead shot.

“KMC ensures that landowners have been contacted and permission has been granted to both access the property and to fly the drone,” Kereliuk said.

In addition to Trans Mountain’s work, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) is developing Geographic Response Strategies as part of GRPs. WCMRC is identifying and mapping strategic response locations along the shoreline of the route for laden oil tankers departing Westridge, from Burrard Inlet through the Salish Sea to the Strait of Juan de Fuca — as well as the entire tanker shipping route along the British Columbia coast. WCMRC is developing Area Plans for responders in collaboration with federal government agencies, local governments, Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders.